Tuesday, January 27, 2009

frustration tolerance

Pook was invited to a roller skating birthday party. I thought nothing but how much fun it would be. I always forget how frustrating it is for him to learn a tough new skill. I think things come too easily to him most of the time. He masters most new tasks quickly and has come to believe that everything should be simple. When a new activity, usually for him a physical activity, proves to be complicated and requiring practice and patience, he quits.

He spent most of his time at the party playing arcade games. But then he became intrigued by the skating. It was cake time and then laser-tag time and the chance to skate was almost over before he traded in his shoes and decided to give it a whirl. Except the only whirling was his arms and legs as he floundered and flapped so spasmodically that his only chance of staying vertical was to hang onto me (in my shoes) for dear life.

I know I'm a bad mom for laughing. I know I should have realized that he wasn't going to be able to laugh at the situation with me. But it was funny. I had visions of teaching my father to ice skate backwards; he has the same tall, gangly build. I tried to pull myself together and to really help him, offering suggestions for regaining better balance, but it wasn't to be. He had no interest in attempting something that made him look so silly. I saw the tears in his eyes and I helped him to the carpet. Two minutes max. "I will never roller skate again" he pronounced. And he probably won't.

I wonder what has made him wary of challenges. It could be innate certainly, but I also suspect that school has helped to create this situation. He has always found academic skills to come easily; he learned his letters as a baby and began to read early. He loves trivia about science and history. His favorite subject is probably math. All of school is fun because it's easy. But for kids who find school to be a daily frustration, perhaps they become accustomed to that experience. You learn that after a struggle you gain a new skill. Pook just wants the new skill. He's unwilling to struggle to learn something.

1 comment:

  1. Happy blog anniversary this week (I think)! I'm enjoying your "Mommy" adventures as we winter in Appalachia. Buuuurrrr, it's been an especially cold season in our 100 year old farmhouse. Please keep posting pics of early signs of springtime in Atlanta.
    I think a lot of kids today are afraid to take risks and are adverse to failure of any sort. Both my boys fall into that category. Our success driven culture puts tremendous pressure on our youth to be the model student, the model athlete, the model child. What is the definition of model??? Adults have to be careful that we don't become too complacent and stop taking risks ourselves. Seems like the risk takers age the best and have more fun along the way. They "model" for the rest of us and show us how to lighten up and laugh at ourselves. Keep up the good humor, especially with your boys!!